Too-Specific Top 10 - "Landfall"

(Tatyova, Benthic Druid | Art by Mathias Kollros)

"Whenever a Land Enters the Battlefield..."

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith is the only card that gives you a Rock when a land enters the battlefield? Of course you did, but it's still awesome!)

Being a bit of a Scryfall addict, and before that, a Gatherer addict, it's always intrigued me to find little niches of cards that can be easily missed by general searches. When looking for "card draw", for instance, it's really easy to miss cards like Fact or Fiction or Militia Bugler because they don't actually include the word "draw". When building "leave the graveyard" tribal with Syr Konrad, the Grim or Quintorius, Field Historian, you can entirely miss mechanics that do exactly what you want, like Flashback and Unearth, by only looking at the Oracle wording instead of the full Oracle text.

One of these little pockets of cards I discovered recently that felt like a big hole in search queries was for land-based decks. Let's talk about Landfall.

Top 10 Landfall Cards That Don't Have "Landfall"

Landfall is a wonderful mechanic, one of the most popular in Magic's history. When you look at land-based decks, it's not uncommon to see instance after instance of it. And why wouldn't it be popular in those decks? I mean, just look at these powerhouses!

Top 10 Landfall Cards

  1. Avenger of Zendikar
  2. Rampaging Baloths
  3. Lotus Cobra
  4. Scute Swarm
  5. Khalni Heart Expedition
  6. Omnath, Locus of Rage
  7. Zendikar's Roil
  8. Felidar Retreat
  9. Emeria Shepherd
  10. Moraug, Fury of Akoum

However, are these Landfall cards actually the best Landfall cards? To check that, I changed my Scryfall search from "o:Landfall" to "o:'whenever a land enters the battlefield'", and, lo and behold, the results changed!

So what else can we do, other than take a look at the top 10 "Landfall" cards?

Criteria: Cards that contain the words "Whenever a land enters the battlefield" that do not also contain the word "Landfall". As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

10. Omnath, Locus of the Roil

(Helms 1,734 Decks, Rank #95; 3,624 Inclusions, 4% of 83,388 Decks)

While I'm probably fairly alone in this, Omnath, Locus of the Roil is my favorite Omnath. Unlike the other three versions in their various colors, Omnath, Locus of the Roil has a niche and sticks to it. Sure, there's a lot to be said for generic value engines, and you can even use Temur Omnath as just that. However, it's better if you embrace the theme of the card, and that's exactly the design strategy Wizards should be pursuing when it comes to Commander. Locus of the Roil hits that target spot on; it's good enough that you could play it in a non-Elemental deck if you wanted to, but restricted enough that you're not just ignoring large pieces of text on the card to windmill slam a bomb into your 99. More like this, Wizards!

9. Sire of Stagnation

(6,546 Inclusions, 4% of 173,627 Decks)

Unlike every other contender on this list, Sire of Stagnation actually couldn't have its rules text replaced by the Landfall keyword. The reason is that Sire of Stagnation cares about when lands enter under your opponents' control, not your own. It's a rare effect that I often bring up when the old 'ramp versus mass land destruction' argument comes up, because mass land destruction categorically does not in any way help against ramp, and this mechanic does. It would appear that Wizards agrees with me on that, because we've been seeing more of it lately (with no MLD to be found):

Top 7 Reverse Landfall Cards

  1. Archaeomancer's Map
  2. Sire of Stagnation
  3. Confounding Conundrum
  4. Polluted Bonds
  5. Nightshade Harvester
  6. Shattered Angel
  7. Tunnel Ignus

Putting aside my personal beef with the false praises of MLD, Sire of Stagnation provides a powerful effect that's more than worth the six-mana cost of entry. Your opponents are going to play lands, and while you might not care much about the exile-mill, you will absolutely take two cards every time they do.

8. Nissa, Vastwood Seer

(Helms 253 Decks, Rank #556; 8,181 Inclusions, 2% of 327,420 Decks)

Nissa, Vastwood Seer is the most popular of all of the double-sided planeswalkers, and it's not hard to see why. Searching for a land upon entry is already something you're pretty happy with on most creatures, although it would be nice if it didn't just search for basic Forests. Even better, if you follow Nissa up by actually playing that Forest, and have seven or more lands, you can immediately flip her to her planeswalker half, allowing you to grab another land, draw a card, or make a 4/4. For three mana in the late game, that's quite the package, and even if she comes down in the early game, are you really upset if you pay three mana to get a body in play and a land to your hand?

7. Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait

(Helms 1,813 Decks, Rank #86; 6,641 Inclusions, 7% of 94,898 Decks)

There's been a lot of memeing about how Simic commanders reward you for just playing the game... and they're all completely correct. Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait might be the worst offender, simply allowing you to play a land, draw a card, and then play another land to draw another card. Then again, while it is all a bit boring, it's maybe too audacious to lean too hard on the "starter pack" Commander deck for having simple commanders. That is kind of the whole idea of them, after all.

6. Archaeomancer's Map

(11,060 Inclusions, 9% of 121,779 Decks)

It's nice to see the prices for Archaeomancer's Map continue to drop, nearing the $10 mark, although I must admit, I'm not quite sure why that's the case. It's still only been printed in a single Commander set, and it's been an event in every game I've seen it cast, often resulting in the white deck immediately ramping up to the rest of the table, and even giving them the chance to move past everyone else. Heck, it draws two cards upon entry. The only reason I can think of for this price decline is that the supply must be fairly plentiful because Commander 2021 sold well, which would be a nice change of pace when it comes to powerhouse cards from a Commander precon.

5. Nissa, Vital Force

(11,878 Inclusions, 4% of 327,420 Decks)

If I had a dollar for every time Nissa, Vital Force has landed at number five on one of my top ten lists, I'd have two dollars. Which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it happened twice, right?

That said, it's no mystery why, out of all the land-friendly Nissas, people choose to play this one. While both her +1 and -3 are rather underwhelming for five mana, the fact that an unimpeded Nissa can ult after a single turn, and then let you Landfall into a free card for the rest of the game, is just crazy powerful. Make sure you plan accordingly, and don't let the table get surprised when the Nissa player gets to untap and immediately ult!

4. Tireless Tracker

(20,106 Inclusions, 6% of 327,420 Decks)

I think the most surprising thing for me when it comes to Tireless Tracker is the fact that it still shows up in twice as many decks as Tireless Provisioner. Don't get me wrong, Clues are great, but it's pretty safe to say you'd rather have Treasures most of the time, right? Not only that, but you have to shell out $11 to grab a copy of Tireless Tracker, as opposed to $1.25 for Provisioner. And while Tracker does have a +1/+1 counter ability for every time you sacrifice a Clue, I don't think that's really making up the difference. No, what I think we're seeing here is sheer momentum. Tireless Tracker was a top card, so it continues to be one. Tireless Provisioner is a good card in a sea of good cards that came out this last year, most of which were immediately forgotten in the morass of new printings.

We'll be seeing that phenomenon more and more, I think, as Wizards continues to release 20+ sets a year.

3. Courser of Kruphix

(23,242 Inclusions, 7% of 327,420 Decks)

Speaking of cards that have recently gotten shout-outs from new sets, here's Courser of Kruphix! The new Augur of Autumn from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt echoes the Courser very thoroughly, and just like the Tireless Tracker phenomenon, I'd bet that the flashy new card will probably end up seeing less play for similar momentum-related reasons. Obviously we're too close to Augur of Autumn's initial printing for me to confirm that theory quite yet, but there's really not much to dispute as far as it being a mostly superior card. While Courser does have the Landfall ability that lets you gain a life, there aren't very many decks that value incidental lifegain over Augur's ability to grab lands and creatures off the top of the deck, while also not showing the whole table every card you're about to draw.

The real question is this: if I'm right, and the popularity of these new cards will never get up to the same levels as the more well-known cards... is that actually a bad thing? Everyone with a mouthpiece in the Magic community has been lamenting the flood of new cards and new product releases that's almost impossible to keep up with, so why not stick with what you already have instead of constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses?

2. Evolution Sage

(24,325 Inclusions, 7% of 327,420 Decks)

Prior to the War of the Spark set, the Proliferate mechanic was rather rare, and was more or less restricted to blue and black (outside of a few notable cards like Contagion Engine and Contagion Clasp). War of the Spark brought it to every color combination with the exception of red, which remains stuck with just the rather unremarkable and non-repeatable Volt Charge. One of the new Proliferate cards that landed the hardest was Evolution Sage, allowing for land-based decks to uptick their planeswalkers, Hydras, and Plant tokens from Avenger of Zendikar multiple times a turn. Even outside of land-centric decks, where you're just playing your normal one land a turn, Proliferate at that rate can be powerful enough that numbers for Evolution Sage are both astronomical and fairly understandable. Superfriends decks, +1/+1 counters decks, and even Infect builds are all looking for this little Elf Druid, and rightfully so.

1. Tatyova, Benthic Druid

(Helms 2,177 Decks, Rank #63; 26,255 Inclusions, 15% of 172,410 Decks)

Lands decks are the fifth most popular theme on EDHREC, so it was inevitable that one of their representatives would sit atop a Top 10 list. Tatyova, Benthic Druid allows for a cavalcade of value whether she's at the head of your deck or in the 99. Moreover, as an uncommon, she's stayed fairly cheap to purchase over time, and is also eligible to be a commander in the growing Pauper EDH format, where despite the fact that you can have any uncommon creature as your commander, she's still one of the most popular options available. Indeed, she is currently the second most popular uncommon commander, only behind Syr Konrad, the Grim, who shows up in 34,744 decks, although she's actually beating his 1,384 decks as a commander rather handily.

In other words, if you like to either play lands or draw cards in Commander, you've probably looked at Tatyova, because who wouldn't want to do more of both?

Honorable Mentions

There are quite a lot of non-Landfall Landfall cards out there, since lands causing triggered abilities has been a mechanic since the original Alpha. With that in mind, here's a chronological list of the best Landfall cards from each set that contained one or more.

Landfall Through the Ages

Nuts and Bolts

There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.

What Do You Think?

Oh, people thought I'd given up on the whole "MLD doesn't stop ramp decks, it helps them" thing, huh?

Finally, what is your favorite Landfall card? Does it actually have Landfall? Do you think that "Reverse Landfall" should continue to be printed at a greater clip?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table that keeps on getting bigger as more folks arrive. Convenient, that.

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.